Physical therapist, Athletic Trainer
Russ Nelson ran track and cross country in high school and college, and he always enjoyed being around sports, which led him to pursue a career in physical therapy and athletic training. “Professionally, I am inspired by patients working so hard to get better,” Russ says. “The rehabilitation process is tough, but most of the time, the patients are tougher. Sometimes, we are trying to get a patient back to independent living, and sometimes we are trying to get an athlete back to sports.”
Russ has noticed that many jobs have become increasingly automated over the years, but he does not foresee that happening with physical therapy. “Studies have shown how important the human touch can be in the rehab process,” Russ says. “There will always be ‘the new big thing,’ but I don’t think the gold-standard therapy will ever be automated.”
Early on in his career, Russ says he took for granted that his job allowed him to help people. “Chris Karam, the former CEO at St. Michael, would tell us that we were blessed because in healthcare, we are invited into people’s lives when they are at possibly their lowest, and that really rang true to me,” Russ says. “I love the opportunity to help people, and I also believe I work with some of the best clinicians I have ever been around.”
Now, even on the most challenging days at work, Russ is constantly motivated and inspired by being able to assist and support people on their journey back to full health. “I am given a front-row seat to watch while God heals people,” Russ says. “It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Russ obtained a Sports Clinical Specialty in Physical Therapy and has been published in several journals. “Looking back on my professional career, these accomplishments make me proud,” Russ says. “Personally, I am very proud of my kids’ accomplishments. I am married to my best friend, Holly, a teacher at Trinity Christian School, and we have three great kids. Hannah is a physical therapist in Maumelle; Halah is in her second year of occupational therapy school at the University of Central Arkansas; and Rhett is a pole vaulter at the University of Arkansas.”
In the future, Russ wants to focus on his kids and their future families. “I would like to be very involved with their lives. I want to be like some of my patients who host ‘summer camp’ at the grandparents,” Russ says. “I know Holly will have them cooking, and I plan to have teaching sessions on the different track and field events.”
1. I am involved in the Texarkana community through running and occasionally participating in races where we push special needs kids in wheelchairs. I also play tennis in a local league.
2. My favorite place to eat in Texarkana is Pop’s Place, and I always order the salad with the steak medallions. I also love their bread pudding. It is amazing.
3. I believe the best tip for staying healthy is moderation. I often see people with great intentions start a workout program. At first, they are very motivated, but they will often do too much too soon and either get injured or quit.
4. If I could invent a miracle drug, I would like to develop one for Alzheimer’s because seeing someone lose their memory seems so unfair.
5. Most people don’t know I keep bees and chickens in my backyard.